ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain Sunday said Pakistan's future lies in a strong democracy that would ensure progress, prosperity and development of the country.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the 70th Independence Day in Islamabad on Sunday morning, the president urged the nation to work selflessly with the same zeal of independence struggle to confront the challenges ahead. He recalled that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah believed that democracy was part of life of a Muslim and was the way forward.

He urged the nation to ensure rule of law and service to the people of Pakistan as the core values that would take the country forward.

The president said Operation Zarb-e-Azb under the National Action Plan has produced encouraging results, and it will continue until its logical conclusion. He said every visible and invisible enemy will be chased and crushed, in order to establish durable peace in the country.

The president said menace of terrorism will be eliminated from the country by carrying out decisive actions with a renewed determination.

He said the recent terrorist incident in Quetta has aggrieved the entire nation, and every Pakistani has sympathies with the bereaved families.

He said the blood of the martyrs of Quetta will not go in waste. Mamnoon Hussain said the plot of the enemy needs to be understood and the mutual differences should not be provoked. National unity, democracy, and strong defense will lead to progress and stability in the country.  He said the nation is standing by the armed forces in the ongoing war on terror, and it pays tribute to their services for the nation.

He said a national agenda will have to be pursued for improving law and order situation and maintaining economic stability. He said the government has achieved successes in respect of security situation, economy, and development, and will continue its journey of progress and prosperity.

The president said the passion of Pakistan Movement could help deal with the prevalent challenges successfully. He said the words of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah are the pearls of wisdom. Equality, fraternity, provision of basic rights, a society free from religious, ethnic, and racial differences, and independent foreign policy are the key principles for achieving prominence among the comity of nations.

Mamnoon Hussain  urged the nation to stand united and rise above petty differences and carry on the mission of Tehreek-e-Pakistan with a commitment in the next phase to make Pakistan a strong democratic entity.

He also urged the nation to ensure rule of law and service to the people of Pakistan as the core values that would take the country forward.

Mamnoon Hussain said Pakistan cannot forget the Kashmiris on this occasion, and will continue supporting them for their just struggle to self-determination in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Earlier, the President along with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif unfurled the national flag. Sirens were also sounded at 8:59 am, and all the moving traffic on road and sea came to a halt for one minute.

The ceremony was attended by the Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, federal ministers, services chiefs, diplomats of various countries, First Lady Begum Mehmooda Mamnoon and people from all sections of the society.

The flag hoisting ceremony started at 0900 hours after the blaring of sirens across the country and traffic coming to standstill. This followed the national anthem of Pakistan played by the students from different educational institutions of Islamabad.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals.

The Convention Centre, where the flag hoisting ceremony was held  gave a festive look as it was adorned by national flags of Pakistan and lights just like every windows and balconies across the country and green lights flooding the streets.